Just two hours from London by road, less by train, Ramsgate in Kent is a great choice for a weekend break in the UK. Full of beautiful Georgian and Victorian architecture, with a pretty harbour and compact town centre, Ramsgate will appeal to those who love beautiful coastlines, military and naval history, and browsing in antique and second-hand shops.
The Royal Harbour Hotel, Ramsgate
We were invited to visit by the Royal Harbour Hotel, who also run The Empire Room restaurant on site, and the recently opened Little Ships restaurant and cafe down in the harbour.
The hotel is spread across three beautiful Georgian terraced houses in a sea view garden crescent just above the harbour, two of them adjacent and the other a couple of doors down. The two adjacent houses are home to the reception, a light and bright breakfast room and two sitting rooms for guest use, including an honesty bar. The Empire Room restaurant is in the basement level, accessed from outside.
There are 28 bedrooms of varying sizes, of which we personally recommend the suites and large back-facing doubles for their generous size. Standard and balcony sea view rooms are significantly smaller.
Our beautiful ground-floor double room with garden view was located in the house a couple of doors down. We appreciated the large, very comfortable bed, three comfy armchairs and well-lit spacious bathroom and loved the eclectic artwork of several colourful Parisian prints and a Subbuteo board on the wall! All rooms have TV with Freeview and basic tea and coffee making facilities.
You can book your room to include a continental or full breakfast. The continental breakfast is a self-service buffet of fresh pastries, bread and brioche (toaster provided), lots of fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereal, smoked salmon, cheese, jams and even a tray of in-the-comb honey. Cooked breakfast options include the full English, kippers or omelette.
Half board is also available, with dinner taken in The Empire Room restaurant – the restaurant is also open to non-residents and offers an a la carte and set menu. The hotel also serves a complimentary cheese board in the lounge area at 10 pm, a lovely touch which we were far too full to try.
Staff are friendly and helpful, indeed hotel manager David Dray won the Pride of Thanet’s tourism award for serviced accommodation last year for his dedication to ensuring guests have a positive experience.
Sightseeing in Ramsgate
The Royal Harbour and marina are key attractions in Ramsgate. You will find plenty of beautiful and historical architecture (such as the Home for Smack Boys, the Sailors’ Church and Harbour Mission), the Ramsgate Maritime Museum (in the old Clock House) focusing on Ramsgate’s military and naval history, some of the original “Little Ships” that took part in the Dunkirk evacuations, and a really fabulous Vintage and Retro Junk shop in one of the arches along Military Road.
Not usually a huge fan of Wetherspoons pubs, we made an exception to visit the Royal Victoria Pavilion, an incredible Grade II listed pavilion that was totally dilapidated and at risk of ruin before Wetherspoons carried out a very impressive restoration.
As we visited Ramsgate in late October, the weather wasn’t suitable for us to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches and coastal walks to Broadstairs’ Viking Bay or Pegwell Bay, both of which are hugely popular when the weather is good.
During our drizzly visit, we particularly enjoyed browsing in Michael’s Bookshop, a wonderfully old-school second-hand bookshop, warren-like corridors of shelves laden with treasure. There are also several antiques shops and another vintage store at Petticoat Lane Emporium.
When we return on a sunnier weekend, we’d like to visit the Ramsgate Tunnels, which sheltered 60,000 people during Word War II air raids, and the Italianate Glasshouse in King George VI Memorial Park.
For those who don’t want to walk the coastal path but would still like to visit Viking Bay, there’s an excellent bus service called The Loop which runs between Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate. You can catch it right by the harbour in Ramsgate (or at one of several other stops around town) and it makes a convenient stop in Broadstairs, from where it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the beach.
Kavey Eats visited Ramsgate as guests of The Royal Harbour Hotel.
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